Family Vireos (Vireonidae)

Least Concern

Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii)


French: Viréo de Bell German: Braunaugenvireo Spanish: Vireo de Bell

Vireo bellii


, 1844,

“short distance below Black Snake Hills” = near St Joseph, Missouri, USA


Recent molecular study#R suggests that races pusillus and arizonae may form a separate species, but differences in morphology minor and those in song undiscernible. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. b. pusillus Coues, 1866 – Least Vireo – S California S to extreme NW Mexico (NW Baja California); migrates to S Baja California.
  • V. b. arizonae Ridgway, 1903 – SW USA (S Nevada, SW Utah, NW Arizona and SW New Mexico) S to NW Mexico (NE Baja California and Sonora); migrates to W Mexico (C & S Sonora S to Jalisco, rarely to C Michoacán).
  • V. b. medius Oberholser, 1903 – SC USA (S New Mexico, SW Texas) S to NC Mexico (S to San Luis Potosí, probably SW Tamaulipas, possibly SW Durango); migrates to W Mexico.
  • V. b. bellii Audubon, 1844 – Bell's Vireo – C & S USA (from North Dakota E to Indiana, S to C Texas); migrates to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and (rarely) extreme NW Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    11·5–12·5 cm; 7·3–9·8 g. Nominate race has crown and nape dull greyish-brown, becoming more greenish on back and rump; eyering and... read more


    Primary song a characteristic loud, unmusical sequence of c. 10 spluttery notes, lasting c. 1... read more


    Dense low scrub, especially riparian bushland, young second-growth forest, coastal chaparral and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mostly arthropods, especially large insects. Prey during breeding includes caterpillars of Lepidoptera, bees and wasps (Hymenoptera),... read more


    Season mid Mar to Jul, from May in N of range; usually only one brood in Kansas, usually two in California and Arizona. Monogamous;... read more


    Migratory; one small area of overlap of summer and winter ranges in NW Mexico (Sonora). Nocturnal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Near Threatened. Locally fairly common. Populations over much of range in decline, with 2·7% annual... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2019). Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 April 2019).